Police in London, Ontario confirmed sexual assault charges levied against five members of Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team and apologized to the alleged victim for the length of time it took for her case to see action.
London police chief Thai Truong held a news conference Monday, several days after Carter Hart, Michael McLeod, Cal Foote, Dillon Dube and Alex Formenton turned themselves in.
“I want to extend, on behalf of the London Police Service, my sincerest apology to the victim, to her family, for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point,” Truong said.
Hart, McLeod, Foote, Dube and Formenton each face one count of sexual assault. McLeod faces an additional charge of being party to an offense.
The players deny criminal wrongdoing and no allegations have been proven.
Formenton is a former NHL forward currently playing in Switzerland, while the other four are active NHLers who have taken paid leaves of absences from their teams. Hart was the No. 1 goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers and has been moved to the Flyers’ non-roster list; Dube plays for the Calgary Flames and McLeod and Foote are on the New Jersey Devils.
Truong did not detail why the police reopened the case three years after an initial investigation was closed.
“This review involved re-examining initial investigative steps, gathering additional evidence and obtaining new information,” he said. “As a result, we have found sufficient steps to charge five adult males with sexual assault.”
The case began Monday and will resume in a London court on April 30.
TSN reported in May 2022 that a woman identified only by her initials in court documents settled a $3.55 million lawsuit she had filed against Hockey Canada and other defendants, including eight unnamed players.
The woman reported that the alleged assault took place in a London hotel room in June 2018 after a Hockey Canada Foundation fundraiser.
After news of the settlement, Canada’s Parliament convened committee hearings to learn more about the case and as details emerged, sponsors fled and several board members and top executives of Hockey Canada were removed. London police later reopened the investigation amid public outcry.
Hockey Canada issued a statement Monday saying it has “cooperated fully” with London police. A reporter’s question to the police whether any Hockey Canada official attempted to interfere with the initial investigation went unanswered.
“Hockey Canada recognizes that in the past we have been too slow to act and that in order to deliver the meaningful change that Canadians expect of us, we must work diligently and urgently to ensure that we are putting in place the necessary measures to regain their trust, and provide all participants with a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment on and off the ice,” Hockey Canada president and CEO Katherine Henderson said in a statement.
–Field Level Media
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